Any fan of the battle royale genre has definitely heard of Call of Duty: Warzone by now. Activision's second attempt to combine their universally known Call of Duty franchise with battle royale concept, Warzone succeeds where Blackout failed to make a splash.
COD: Warzone is a hybrid of tried and true features and new ideas, taking inspiration not only from previous Call of Duty titles, but from many of the other popular battle royale games out there, all the while innovating on what some say has become a tired fad. You'd think there's only so many ways to mix up the gameplay loop of dozens of players being thrown into a shrinking arena, but Activision put a fresh spin on it.
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You've got a lot of familiar elements at play. Warzone is standalone and free-to-play, but is in essence a DLC to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, sharing a location, many assets and basically all weapons and mechanics with it. You don't need to own Modern Warfare to download Warzone, however. Arguably the most popular battle royale game out there right now, Fortnite: Battle Royale has a similar origin, being a spinoff from the unsuccessful Fortnite.
Other features shared with popular titles is the ever shrinking safe-zone, which ensures players keep meeting up and fighting despite their dwindling numbers, a large and varied map with several notable landmarks, ideal dropzones and loot hotspots, and a variant of a season pass. Upon release, Warzone used a three-player squad setup similar to Apex Legends, but has added a Solos mode since.
The place you're going to be repeatedly shooting up is Verdansk, the idealised fictional stand-in for a generic post-Soviet city that modern military shooters just love destroying. Featuring what just may be the greatest landscape and urban variety on the smallest area in the world, the map is a patchwork of references to the most popular multiplayer maps from the long history of Call of Duty, with dozens of easter eggs nodding to the most iconic entries in the series.
In terms of gameplay, you have the standard battle royale setup sewed together with the standard multiplayer Call of Duty experience. This means gun customization, Killstreaks and Perks. The fabric that holds these two worlds together consists of a number of innovative gameplay mechanics that take battle royale as a genre to the next level.
Instead of just hunting other players in order to be the last team - or player - standing, you'll be (ideally) spending most of your time in Verdansk doing Contracts. These are side-quests which come in three flavors, and are your best bet at earning cash, loot and intel about the location of your opponents and the upcoming safe-zones as the deadly gas steadily decreases the area of the battlefield.
Players also have several ways to come back into the fight after biting the dust. When playing with teammates, you can revive one another. Alternatively, you can purchase self-revive kits at the Buy Stations, provided you have the necessary cash on you. Even if you croak, you get a second chance - you're sent to the Gulag, where you enter savage 1v1 arena battles with other eliminated players. If you win your duel, you get to redeploy. Even losing a Gulag match isn't the end of the game - your squadmates can purchase your redeployment, or you can help them while spectating by using the ping system.
Other battle royales need to step up their game - the Call of Duty name combined with this popular genre is a force to be reckoned with under any circumstance, but this time they actually got it right.